The lovely Axelle sends X’s and O’s from my photo studio to all my readers. She wore what seems to be her favorite latex dress to complement her pistachio colored boots and that bright pink purse. I said to her that something baby blue would go well with that combo. We couldn’t find anything blue, so I decided to created something in the background. X’s and O’s were just the right thing.
And lets’ be clear about one more thing… Huey Lewis & the News were absolutely right: it’s hip to be square!
The 15th Wing Air Transport of the Belgian Air Force turns 75 this year. And they’ve celebrated their anniversary with an open door. They’re based at Melsbroek Air Base. That is basically the north east corner of Brussels airport. So next time you catch a flight to your holiday destination, walk down to the end of the A pier. You may actually see some of their A400M transporters on the tarmac.
That right, the 15th Wing Air Transport currently operates 7 Airbus A400M Atlas aircraft, amongst others. We said goodbye to the might Herc a couple of years ago. All our C-130’s have now been replaced by brand-spanking-new A400M’s. And this was one of the 1st opportunities the public had to meet those new A400M’s.
The 15th Wing saw actions in the days before the open door. Just before their open door weekend, they aided in the repatriation of Olivier Vandecasteele after his imprisonment in Iran. This A400M of the 15th Wing met Mr. Vandecasteele in Oman and brought him home.
Melsbroek Air Base is also the home of the air support group of the Belgian Police. Since 1997, they are equipped with MD Helicopters (formerly a division of McDonnell Douglas) MD900 Explorer and MD902 Explorer. The MD900 and the MD902 are so called notar helicopters. The aircraft does not have a tail rotor but instead uses the airflow from the engines’ exhaust to stabalize the aircraft.
Belgian Police uses their helicopters for al sorts of activities ranging form surveillance over transporting their special forces to assisting the fire department with water drops. It was very spectacular to see them demonstrate how the aircraft is used to drop the special forces and their attack dog to arrest suspected criminals.
In the week after the open door weekend, an MD902 of the Federal Police assisted the fire departments to put out a fire at the Hoge Venen National Park.
I took all these photos on Sunday, May 28, 2023 at the open door of the 15th Wing Air Transport.
I went to see Bruce Springsteen in Dublin. After 7 years, it was great to see him perform live again. My best friend and I took the time to visit some places around the city. It had been 10 years since we were in Dublin. And in that time we found a couple of things to see: whiskey tasting at Teeling, Trinity College, … Stuff like that.
Trinity College’s dining hall on the right is dubbed Heaven. The exam hall on the left is dubbed Hell. This sure brings a whole new meaning to the line from Springsteen’s Better Days:
“Tonight this fool’s half way to heaven and just a mile outta hell.”
Some more random images of landmarks around town:
I saw my 1st ever Springsteen concert exactly 30 years ago today. On April 23, 1993 Springsteen played Flanders Expo with his “new” band. After the Tunnel of Love tour, Bruce had disbanded the E Street Band. On the back of the release of the albums Human Touch and Lucky Town, he set out with a whole new band.
I had been into Springsteen’s music since he released Born in the U.S.A. in 1984. But up until 1993 I had never seen him live. I remember being a bit disappointed when he announced he would not be touring with the E Street Band. That disappointment disappeared quickly when I got to Flanders Expo back in 1993. I can still feel the excitement I felt that day! Actually I feel that same excitement before a Springsteen show even today.
Tickets were 1100 Belgian Franks back in 1993. That is €27.3 or roughly US$30 at the rate of publication of this article. Quite the difference with the current ticket prices even if you take inflation into account. You had to go and queue at a ticket outlet or call a ticket hotline number to get tickets to the concert back in those days. Compared to today’s internet age, a lot more hassle.
I got to Flanders Expo quite early on April 23, 1993 and ended up on the 3rd row center stage on the 1st night. On the 2nd night, I was a bit further back. I remember having a blast on both nights. These 2 shows got me on a 30 year–and counting–journey with Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. It has been a lot of fun so far. I’ve been to a bunch of cities and met many new friends along the way.
When Axelle got to my studio last month, she said she had just bought some beautiful new lingerie. She asked if I would mind doing some pics with it. When she showed me the lingerie set, I could not refuse. What do you think? Doesn’t she look beautiful?
My best friend gave me a couple of chairs that belonged to my grandmother. I a weird twist of faith, he purchased those chairs years ago when my grandmother passed away. That was way before he and I were friends. I knew he had them and I had told him that if he ever wanted to get rid of them, I would like to have them. So he did… And the chairs seemed a perfect prop for this shoot. I hope my grandmother won’t mind I used one for f the antique chairs from the cafe for this shoot.
I stumbled on a tweet from the Royal Dutch Air Force announcing exercise Falcon Autumn. It’s an exercise to train airborne operations that was held from October 31 until November 18. Helicopter units from the Netherlands, Poland and the U.S.A. were to train deployment of infantry units. The helicopters would be based on the Luitenant-General Bestkazerne, aka Air Base De Peel.
The US was represented by the US Army’s 12th Combat Aviation Brigade. They dispatched Chinook and Apache helicopters. And above all–at least to me–Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. I had the Black Hawk high on my list of aircraft I wanted to see in real life. So, I did so research and hoped in my car to try to find Black Hawk helicopters.
I was actually just in time to see the last flight of the 12th CAB Black Hawks leave the base. Not the best of photos, but I did get to see Black Hawks. Mission accomplished. At least in part.
I did get a couple of good shots from the Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters from the 12th CAB lifting off. Watching 5 or so Chinooks take to the air at the same time, is quite impressive.
And I was quite pleased with the spotlight effect I got out of my PIXAPRO Optical Snoot Spot Projector and my Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM macro. Definitely a setup to revisit in the near future.
I had made plans with Shannety and Romi for our 10th anniversary shoot in Antwerp over the summer. What they didn’t know, was that I also had invited Daria to join us for some more photos. I told Shannety and Romi about Daria. I told them that Daria is a good model and that I love working with her just as much as I like working with them. They had told me a few times that they would love to meet Daria. And what better way than having the 3 of them on the same shoot?
We all had a lot of fun during the shoot. And as these photos will prove: three was definitely not a crowd. These 3 together actually works perfectly!
These 3 are the most amazing models! And I’ve been working with all 3 for so long. Daria (on the left above) was actually the 1st model I ever worked with. That was back in 2006. Romi (in the middle above) and Shannety (on the right above) were contestants for a teen modelling contest when I met them back in 2012.
We’ve got help from the lovely miss Elem on this shoot. She did Shannety’s and Romi’s make up. The shoot wouldn’t have been a success without her craft. I just love Elem to death.
Fun story… In the middle of the shoot a young man walks up to me, glanced over to the girls and said: “Sir, I think you are the luckiest guy in the city today. You must be so happy.“ With a big smile on my face, I replied: “I am buddy! I sure am!”. This here photo is prove of that.
I met Romi and Shannety at a modeling contest back in 2012. We went on a photoshoot in Park Spoor Noord that year. Over the years, we kept in touch and worked together quite often. In 2017 it dawned on me that we were friends for 5 years and that it was 5 years since our 1st shoot together. Back then, we said we would do a city shoot in Antwerp every 5 years.
2022 marks the 10th anniversary of that 1st shoot. And that meant it was time for another shoot. In Zurenborg this time.
This year’s 10th anniversary shoot would not have been successful without the support of Elem. She did Romi’s and Shannety’s makeup. As she has done on so many of our shoots. She’s a great make up artist and I am glad she wants to work with me so often.
This is what 10 years of collaborations looks like:
The girls at Park Spoor Noord in 2012 (left), outside the MAS museum in 2017 (middle) and in Zurenborg in 2022 (right).